Eligible NZ Citizens and the Special Category Visa (444)

Historically, New Zealand citizens did not require visas to travel to Australia.

This changed on 1 September 1994, when NZ citizens were granted Special Category visa upon arrival and became what was called ‘Eligible New Zealand Citizens’.

Practically, this meant that NZ Citizens could access social security benefits as well as other entitlements such as sponsoring relatives for permanent residency and applying for Australian citizenship.

The system changed again on 26 February 2001. From this date, NZ Citizens were no longer able to access Australian social security, unless:

  • They were already in Australia on 26 February 2001, or
  • Were overseas on 26 February 2001 but had been resident in Australia for at least one year out the the previous two years

Special Category Visa (444)

After 26 February 2001, NZ Citizens arriving in Australia would be granted a Special Category Visa (444). Typically this visa is granted upon arrival.

While the 444 is a temporary visa, you will be able to remain in Australia indefinitely.

The 444 allows works, study and Medicare rights.

From 1 July 2017 there will be an additional pathway to permanent resident (and therefore citizenship) if you arrived after 26 February 2001 and before 19 February 2016. You will need to have lived in Australia for the last five years and shown a commitment and contribution to Australia. The pathway will be within the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) stream.

Please contact our office if you would like to be updated about this pathway.

New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa (461)

‘Eligible NZ Citizens’ continue to be able to sponsor family members for permanent residency.

For those that are not ‘eligible NZ citizens’, you may be eligible to sponsor your family for temporary residence in Australia under the NZ Citizen Family Relationship visa (461).

Typically this visa will mean the family member can remain in Australia for up to five years.